In what appears to be the first documented case of human-to-animal monkeypox spreading, a dog was likely infected with the virus from its owners in France, scientists say.
The development, reported in the medical journal Lancet, underscores guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urging people with suspected or confirmed monkeypox infections to avoid contact with animals — including their pets — while they are contagious.
The France case occurred in a household where two men live with their male Italian Greyhound. The dog slept with his owners in the same bed. According to the report, the greyhound developed 12 days after the owners showed symptoms.
The owners “had ensured that their dog would not come into contact with other pets or people from the start of their own symptoms,” the report said.
A number of animals are susceptible to monkey pox, including several species of rodents, monkeys, great apes, hedgehogs, shrews and dogs, the CDC says. It is not known whether this applies to cats or farm animals, such as cows, goats, sheep and pigs.
“We must assume that any mammal can be infected with the monkeypox virus,” the agency wrote on a guidance page.
When asked about the dog case during a video call with the Washington Post this week, Dr. Rosamund Lewis – technical leader for monkey pox at the World Health Organization – said: “This is the first incident we learn about where there is human-animal transmission.
“This has not been reported before, nor has it been reported that dogs have been previously infected. So on a number of levels, this is new information,” she said. “It’s not surprising information, and it’s something we’re looking for.”
However, she added that “we don’t know if that dog can transmit the infection to someone else.”
“This is an example where most pets are not at risk. It can only be those who are actually in the household of someone who is infected,” she said.
More than 2,300 possible or confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported in California as of Wednesday, according to the Department of Health.
If a monkeypox-infected person has not had close contact with a pet after the onset of symptoms, the CDC suggests asking a friend or family member who lives in another household to care for the animal until the owner is fully is restored. Close contact with a pet includes petting the animal or sharing food or a sleeping area.
Owners who need to care for their healthy pets during home isolation should wash their hands before and after grooming and cover any rashes during grooming and wear gloves and a well-fitting mask. Owners should do their best to avoid close contact with pets.
Pet owners should also try to prevent their animals from coming into contact with contaminated clothing, sheets and towels. Pus from the sores of an infected person is filled with infectious virus.
Pet feces should not be left outside as this can increase the risk of the virus infecting wildlife. It should be flushed down the toilet if possible and if not, sealed in a bag before throwing it away.
Owners should also avoid shaking dirty laundry or contaminated sheets that could spread infectious materials, the CDC said.